Jobs Icon Jobs Icon Jobs Tefl Icon Tefl Icon TEFL Tcp Icon Tcp Icon Teacher Certification Hire Teachers Icon Hire Teachers Icon Hire Teachers
teach english in china salary

So, you’re thinking about teaching in China? Great!

For the young and uncommitted fresh (or not-so-fresh) graduate , China offers thousands of teaching opportunities to finance a grand travel adventure or even pay off that dreaded student debt. All you need is that undergrad degree + native-level English skills + TEFL certificate and you’re good to go.

Watch this video: What are the requirements to teach English in China?

And for experienced, certified teachers contemplating taking their career overseas  , China offers plenty of high-paying teaching jobs and infinite opportunities to progress both professionally and personally.

But before you get started with your teach abroad job hunt, you want to know how much you can really make while you’re abroad.

How much do teachers make in China?

teach english in china salary 2018

The short answer is, it depends! The salary an international school in Shanghai offers will differ to what you can expect teaching English at a language school in Shenzhen.

  1. If you have a bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certificate but no experience, you can expect to earn $1,500 – 2,900 USD per month teaching at an after-school language training center in China.
  2. If you’re an experienced, licensed teacher teaching your subject specialty, you can expect to earn anywhere from $2,500 – 4,700 USD per month teaching at an international school in China.
  3. If you’re an experienced ESL instructor, you can expect to earn anywhere from $1,000 – 1,600 USD a month teaching as little as 25 hours a week within the public school system in China.
  4. Teaching English at a university in China is also an option that’s open to you – for around 20 hours of teaching a week, you can expect to earn up to $1,700 USD a month.

Note: While we’ve done the US currency conversion for you as a guideline above, please bear in mind that you’ll be paid in Chinese Renminbi (RMB) or Yuan. Check out to help you do the math on converting your local currency to RMB. 

Why the huge range? It largely depends on three factors, which we’ve outlined below:

Teach Away logo

Sign up to Teach Away today for access to the latest
teaching jobs around the world.


1. Your salary teaching in China depends on where you’re teaching.

teach tefl in china salary

Wondering how much teaching English in China really pays? For starters, your income will fluctuate depending on where in this incredible country you’re actually teaching. One of the most common financial mistakes prospective teachers in China make is assuming that a higher income will necessarily equate to a more prosperous lifestyle.

Both ESL and certified teachers working in more rural areas tend to be paid on the lower end of the corresponding salary ranges listed above. However, the local cost of living will offset this fact, meaning you can still enjoy a similar standard of living afforded to teachers who are paid top dollar in cities like Beijing, Guangdong and Shanghai.

Average teaching salaries in tier 1 cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen):

Institution type

Salary range (USD)

Language centers

$1,800 – 2,900

Public schools

$1,500 – 2,500

International schools

$2,500 – 4,700


$1,200 – 1,600

Average teaching salaries in tier 2 cities (Nanjing, Chengdu, Kunming, Wuhan and Xiamen):

Institution type

Salary range (USD)

Language centers

$1,500 – 1,850

Public schools

$1,400 – 2,300

International schools

$2,000 – 3,500


$1,000 – 1,300

Average teaching salaries in tier 3 cities (Yangzhou, Zhongshan, Guilin and Foshan):

Institution type

Salary range (USD)

Language centers


Public schools

$1,000 – 1,500

International schools

$1,500 – 3,000



Not sure how far your salary will go teaching in certain regions of China Numbeo and Expatistan have cost-of-living calculators to help you determine just how far your salary will go teaching in various locations throughout China.

These sites are especially useful in determining whether you’ll have a comparable net income to other areas after you factor in common expenses like groceries, utilities and entertainment.

For more on the average cost of daily items in cities in China, check out our city guide series:

Your salary teaching in China depends on your qualifications.

Another major factor in determining your teaching pay in China is your qualifications and experience.

If you’re teaching at an international school (whether it’s English or another subject area), you can expect to earn more compared to an inexperienced ESL teacher working at a language school. Bonus: Your paycheck will, more than likely, stretch a whole lot further than teaching salaries in your home country.

For those jobs, though, you’ll need a teaching license or certificate and a couple of years of classroom experience under your belt. An advanced degree, like a master’s degree in education, can also beef up your salary quite nicely.

Heads up: To learn more about other countries that pay the big bucks for overseas teachers, check out our list of the top countries to make the most money teaching abroad this year!

Your salary teaching in China depends on the type of institution you’re teaching in.

how much does teaching english in china pay

Here’s a few examples to help steer you in the right direction:

Exhibit A: Bright Scholar Education Group, one of the largest operators of international schools in China, are currently hiring certified teachers across a range of grads levels and subjects, paying anywhere from $2,500 – 4,070 USD each month.

Exhibit B:Teach Away’s Explore Program places college graduates and licensed teachers in positions at English language schools across China. The program pays successful program applicants up to $3,300 USD/month, depending on their qualifications and experience.

Exhibit C: Disney English pays their English teachers anywhere from $1,200 – 2,200 USD a month

Curious how Chinese teaching salaries stack up against other ESL hotspots in Asia? Check out our teach abroad salary calculator teach abroad salary calculator for a quick comparison!

Overall, you can expect to save anywhere from 20 – 50% of your teaching salary in China, depending on how strict you are with your budget and how mich travel you want to do in your spare time. Saving a good chunk of your take-home pay is more than doable if your employer offers additional benefits, like Z-visa reimbursement, free housing, flights to and from your home country and a contract-completion bonus.

International school teachers in China can also expect some extra benefits, including paid vacation and medical insurance, making it easier to pay off debt or build up savings. Many employers will include like free Chinese language lessons as part of your teaching package (and in the case of Disney English, free Disneyland passes! )

Two side hustles that will make your salary soar while teaching in China

If you’re on the lookout for ways to make some extra money while teaching in China, there’s no shortage of freelance work as a private English tutor, teaching one-on-one English lessons to kids and adults in your free time.

You’ll be able to pick and choose the times that work best around your current English teaching job. This can be a lucrative way to supplement an already decent income – with almost 2 billion English language learners in China, private English tutors are in high demand virtually everywhere.

Or, if you’re more into the idea of padding your bank account from the comfort of your own home (no commuting to lessons necessary!) you can always earn some extra income by teaching English to Chinese students online.

A common misconception is that teaching in China doesn’t pay that well. Hopefully, this has given you a better idea of what you can expect to earn as a teacher in China. Next step? Start researching the best teach abroad programs and get applying for teaching positions that fit your skills and experience on the Teach Away job board. Happy job hunting!

Discover where teaching can take you

Recommended for you: